Alessandro Michele is Valentino’s newest creative director — the fashion community is divided

The former creative director of Gucci is trying out Valentino for size, but it hasn’t gone down well with everyone.

Italian designer Alessandro Michele, who’s most well known for his twenty year tenure at Gucci, has swapped out pearl-adorned monograms for something much more stripped back: today it was announced that from as soon as next week, he’ll be working as Valentino’s creative director. His debut collection under the Valentino flag will be unveiled during September’s Paris Fashion Week, and as Michele stipulated in his Instagram announcement, he’ll also be sinking his teeth into couture for the first time. 

Since Michele stepped down from Gucci back in November of 2022, the fashion community has been enraptured by where the trailblazing designer might end up next. We even got pictures of the designer wandering around with actress Dakota Johnson before we were given any inkling of what might be in store for Michele in the sartorial sense. But today, everyone breathed a sigh of relief… Well, kind of. 

Michele’s designs for Gucci earned the heritage brand a legion of (equally garish) fans and support from celebs like Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and Jared Leto, who opted to go as Michele’s quasi-twin to the 2022 Met Gala. More than that, Michele’s stint as creative director led to the fashion house nearly tripling their revenue, going from €3.5 billion in 2014 to €9.73 billion in 2022. But despite all of this, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that what Valentino is currently going for doesn’t quite match up to Michele’s OTT stylings. And it’s because of that (as well as a few other controversial moments in the Italian designer’s fashion career) that not everyone is happy with the landmark move. While he went about it in a whole different way, Pierpaolo Piccoli’s rendition of Valentino has been just about as iconic as Michele’s for Gucci. Piccoli made couture more wearable – denim even found its way onto the runway in their 2022 collections – and he struck the perfect balance between paying homage to the house’s roots and rejuvenating them for a modern audience. Who could forget when Piccoli turned “Valentino Red” into “Valentino Pink” for their Fall/Winter 2022-2023 collection?

And those “controversial” moments? While Michele is certainly no John Galliano, his time at Gucci certainly had a few hiccups. Back in 2019, Gucci had to withdraw an $890 jumper after social media lambasted its resemblance to blackface. And it was in the same year that Gucci was the target of a on-the-runway protest which criticised the fashion house’s use of straightjacket-esque silhouettes… Basically, Michele’s will either sink or swim, and we kind of can’t wait to see which of those it turns out to be. 

WriterAmber Rawlings
Banner Image CreditThe New York Times